Mediterranean agriculture is dominated by the production of wheat, olives, grapes, and citrus fruit. In most of these countries, farming plays a more important role in the national economy than in the northern countries. Throughout much of western Europe, dairy and meat production are major agricultural activities. To the east, crops become more important. In the nations of the Balkan peninsula, crops account for 60% of agricultural production; in Ukraine, wheat production overshadows all other agriculture. Europe as a whole is particularly noted for its great output of wheat, barley, oats, rye, corn, potatoes, beans, peas, and sugar beets. Besides dairy and beef cattle, large numbers of pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry are raised. Most of Europe is self-sufficient in basic farm products.
The boreal forests, which extend from Norway through northern European Russia, are the main sources of forest products in Europe. Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia all have relatively large forestry industries that produce pulpwood, wood for construction, and other products. In southern Europe, Spain and Portugal produce a variety of cork products from the cork oak.
All of the coastal European countries engage in some commercial fishing, but the industry is especially important in the northern countries-particularly Norway, Iceland, and Denmark. Spain, Russia, Great Britain, and Poland also are major fishing nations. The industry currently faces major problems, however, and is in a state of decline in many countries.
International trade is important in Europe. Much of the trade is intracontinental, especially among members of the European Union, but Europeans also engage in large-scale trade with nations of other continents. Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, and The Netherlands are among the world's greatest trading nations. A large portion of European intercontinental trade involves the export of manufactured goods and the import of raw materials.
Coal mining in areas such as the British Midlands, the Ruhr district of Germany, Ukraine, and the Silesian fields of Poland established industrial patterns that continue to exist today. Although coal mining is declining in Europe, it remains important in some countries. Iron ore is produced in large quantities in northern Sweden, eastern France, and Ukraine. A wide range of other minerals-such as bauxite, copper, manganese, nickel, and potash-are mined in substantial amounts. Oil and natural gas are mined in the North Sea and its bordering areas, as well as in the southern part of European Russia (notably the Volga River basin) and Romania.
Manufacturing of a wide variety of goods, ranging from bulk chemicals to high-tech equipment, is concentrated in England, eastern and southern France, northern Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, southern Norway, Sweden, European Russia, and Ukraine.
Europe consumes great quantities of energy, though per capita levels of energy consumption are lower than in North America. The leading energy sources are coal, lignite, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower. Norway, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Spain all have major hydroelectric installations, which contribute much of the annual output of electricity. Nuclear power is important in France, Great Britain, Germany, the former Soviet republics, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, and Bulgaria.
Europe has highly developed transportation systems, which are densest in the central part of the continent; Fennoscandia, the former Soviet Union, and southern Europe have fewer transport facilities in relation to their land area. Europeans own large numbers of private cars, and much freight is transported by road. Rail networks are well maintained in most European countries and are important carriers of passengers as well as freight. High-speed train networks in France, Italy, and Germany make use of the most advanced technology. Water transport also plays a major role in the European economy. Several countries-such as Greece, Great Britain, Italy, France, Norway, and Russia-maintain large fleets of merchant ships. Rotterdam, in The Netherlands, is one of the world's busiest seaports. Much freight is carried on inland waterways; European rivers with substantial traffic include the Rhine, Elbe, Danube, Volga, and Dniepr. In addition, Europe has a number of important canals. Almost all European countries maintain national airlines; several are major worldwide carriers. Most transportation systems in European countries are government-controlled, although a recent tendency toward privatization and deregulation has come into effect in many sectors, including civil aviation.
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